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Delhi Wine Club
DWC: Zonin Wine dinner with Zonin

Posted: Friday, 28 October 2016 12:27


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DWC: Zonin Wine dinner with Zonin

Oct 28: The wine dinner (# 262) organised by India’s most prestigious Delhi Wine Club at Sorrento in Hotel Shangri-la Eros on last Tuesday, was an elegant and memorable all- Italian affair with Francesco Zonin, son of the biggest family-owned wine producer Gianni Zonin, presenting wines including the Sicilian iconic Deliella and Amarone della Valpolicella served from the Zonin stable as the Ambassador, Deputy Chief of Mission, Commercial Counsellor and other Italian diplomats graced the occasion, writes Subhash Arora, President of the Delhi Wine Club

Photos By:: Adil Arora

Click For Large ViewThe previous dinner at the then recently opened Sorrento Restaurant in May this year was such a hit with the members for its authentic Italian cuisine that when I learnt that Francesco Zonin was planning a trip in October 18-20 in Delhi, I decidedly instantly to have a wine dinner for the Delhi Wine Club members with him and Zonin wines at this venue. I also invited the top brass of the Italian embassy for the special occasion.

Prosecco under the stars with a straw

Shangri-la Eros Hotel has a beautiful setting outside the two restaurants Sorrento and Shang Palace. When the weather Gods smile, it is a heavenly spot for a rendezvous- quiet and cosy. We decided to choose this yet again for congregation of members and guests.

Click For Large ViewNo Zonin wine dinner can possibly begin without the ubiquitous Zonin Prosecco doc. Despite their wineries in the 7 regions of Italy (Veneto, Piedmont, Tuscany, Lombardy, Friuli, Puglia and Sicily)-not forgetting their Barbourville winery in Virginia, USA, Zonin is the uncrowned king of Prosecco. The total annual sale of around 25 million bottles includes 20 million bottles of prosecco doc!

Serving in 200mL Piccolo (small) bottle with a straw was a novel idea-perhaps for the first time in India. Many members were surprised as they saw people sipping the fizz with a straw. As the evening progressed there was a lot of discussion on the size of the bottle and the style of serving. A significant number requested for the flutes. When I asked Francesco about popularity of this style, I got the expected answer. The concept has been Click For Large Viewvery popular in the USA where the young drinkers find it cool to drink it with a straw. Aspri, the long-time Indian distributor had decided to try out the concept at the event. Francesco added that they were packaging the Piccolo bottles in Italy for the last 40 years. ‘Piccolo is perfect for a couple to open and split it as a glass of Prosecco,’ he says. It is popular for export as people drink the whole bottle at a time (and hence the straw). Straw or not, the Piccolo is destined to catch on India.

Going by the advice of Exec Chef Neeraj Tyagi, we had cut down on the variety of appetisers as it was a more elaborate 6-course Menu. We focussed instead on the excellent Bruschetta (pronounced as bru-s-ketta and NOT bru-shetta!). Both the vegetarian and the chicken version were truly mouth watering- nice and crunchy, not hard as they sometimes are, but melting in the mouth downed perfectly with the Prosecco.

Click For Large ViewAshwani Kaushik, the Restaurant Manager of Sorrento was called upon to use his managerial skills as we suddenly had to increase our seat requirement from the capped 30 to 44! Skilfully handled! We were very happy to welcome Luigi Estero, the former Commercial Counsellor at the Italian embassy and a great support of Delhi Wine Club, who has now been promoted as the Deputy Head of Mission and is still a well-wisher of the Club. The new Commercial Counsellor Alessandro de Masi and a couple of other diplomats also honoured us for the occasion.

But a pleasant surprise and an honour for the club was the arrival of H.E.  Lorenzo Angeloni, who despite being very busy, made it a point to come as the first course of Mozzarella Salad was dished out with the perfectly matched dry, yet fruity and crisp, light bodied Pinot Grigio from Friuli. He commended the efforts of the Delhi Wine Club to promote wine and promised to visit more often, now that the political air has been cleaned up considerably (though we at the DWC are totally apolitical; what binds us is Click For Large Viewthe gastronomical delights from various wine producing nations).

Francesco charmed the members with his presentation-of the winery, the wines and his father Gianni Zonin who has now given the day to day running to the three brothers- Francesco, Domenico and Michele. He traced the family history back to 1821 when his forefather started growing grapes as a farmer and selling them to wineries. In 1921, the family started bottling wines in Gambellara where Zonin is headquartered. In order to emphasize that the family has a history of almost 200 years- Francesco is the 7th generation of the family, the company has recently changed its name from Zonin to Zonin 1821, doing the same with Zonin USA and Zonin UK.

Click For Large ViewForest wild mushroom risotto with truffle essence served after his talk was an excellent combination with the Zonin Ripasso della Valpolicella, also known as Baby Amarone produced in Valpolicella. The later served Amarone with Sea Bass : Lardo wrapped with olio negra, nuts and roasted forest mushroom and Grilled Lamb Chops served with cave goat cheese, black olive pate, pear glaze and spiced beetroot is also the pride of Valpolicella. Both were excellent parings and matched the food extremely well.

Deliella IGT Sicilia from their Sicilian winery Principi di Butera is an excellent quality Nero d’Avola, one of the top aging wines of Sicily with a complex taste and spicy long end. It was a great match with both the Ravioli stuffed with 24 month aged Parmesan crème brulee  morel mushrooms and  Agnolotti (flat pasta from Piedmont) stuffed with rabbit and slow cooked pork; an example of how a matched food and wine pairing can do to enhance the gastronomical experience. Chef Luigi Ferraro and his team deserve a standing ovation. In fact, the whole team including the wait staff and wine service staff deserves applause that they were given.  Francesco Zonin and the Italian guests were as pleased with the evening as the members of the Delhi Wine Club, and left debating whether Amarone or Deliella was the finest wine of the evening- one of the finest wine evenings of the Club where Aspri played a stellar role as well.

Subhash Arora

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